Decommissioning Our Analogue Networks Safely

Decommissioning Our Analogue Television Transmission Network Safely and Responsibly

Published date: Sept. 11, 2013

On July 31, 2012, the Corporation shut down its 607 analogue television services, a decision driven by both technological and financial reasons.  The Corporation’s analogue transmission network, many decades old, had reached the end of its useful life and was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.  Adding to this was the fact that only 1.7 per cent of Canadian television viewers were using this type of transmission for receiving television signals in Canada, a stark reality, given that operating and maintaining CBC/Radio-Canada’s analogue transmission system came with the significant price tag of over $10 million annually.

Following the shutdown, CBC/Radio-Canada initiated a multi-year project to safely dispose of its analogue transmission towers, antennas, transmitters, and related buildings across the country.  Some of those assets had been operated from CBC/Radio-Canada-owned land, while others had been operated from space leased from other companies.

During fiscal 2012-2013, CBC/Radio-Canada began decommissioning 132 transmission sites, focusing on removing assets from leased space, to begin with.

Environmental Assessments

But before decommissioning sites, the Corporation undertook Environmental Site Assessments and Building Hazardous Material Surveys, where necessary, to ensure that any possible risks were identified and managed responsibly.

CBC/Radio-Canada is committed to continuous improvement and protection of the environment, as is stated in its environmental policy.  As a Crown corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada is required to responsibly manage its assets, and to adhere to federal laws with respect to the environment.  Properly recycling obsolete equipment and material in an environmentally responsible manner is one aspect of the corporate policy.  The Corporation is also expected to monitor the work of any contractors involved in projects such as the decommissioning project, to ensure that environmental, health and safety requirements are fulfilled; and the Corporation must maintain accurate records and databases for such activities.

An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) generally consists of a records review, a site visit, interviews, and information assessment.  Site inspections allow the particulars of the location to be described, including its geology and the current use of the land surrounding it; and they focus on potential soil and/or groundwater contamination, waste disposal areas, and chemical or fuel storage or use, for example.  If mitigation is required for a site during clean-up, the ESA outlines appropriate measures.

A Building Hazardous Material Survey (BHMS) details the location, extent and condition of potentially hazardous materials, if any, which may be present in site buildings, particularly those constructed before regulations regarding hazardous substances came into effect.  If hazardous materials are present, protective measures are outlined in the report to allow for their safe disposal.

Results

The ESA and BHMS studies undertaken by CBC/Radio-Canada during 2012-2013 revealed no major environmental issues, and where mitigation measures were required, most have been completed.  Also during the fiscal year, CBC/Radio-Canada diverted from landfill and recycled a total of 103 metric tonnes of e-waste and scrap metal, as a result of decommissioning activities.

With the shutdown of our analogue television services, the Corporation’s overall annual energy consumption has been reduced by a significant figure — 8.4 per cent.  That is a reduction of 19,721,179 ekwh of energy per year, which is the equivalent of unplugging 32,868 fridges requiring 600 kwh/year, or 49,303 fridges requiring 400 kwh/year, annually.

The Corporation is also saving $10 million in operating and maintenance costs annually by shutting down its analogue transmitters.  These savings, along with the proceeds from the sale of transmission towers, analogue transmission equipment, related buildings, and land used for analogue transmission, will be used to support the creation of Canadian programming.

Next Steps

During 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, the Corporation will continue to decommission and dispose of its analogue transmission network assets, using environmentally safe methods.

Quick facts

    CBC/Radio-Canada undertook Environmental Site Assessments and Building Hazardous Material Surveys before decommissioning its analogue television transmission network. No major issues were found.

    As part of the decommissioning, during 2012-2013 alone, 103 metric tonnes of e-waste and scrap metal were diverted from landfill and responsibly recycled using certified and approved recyclers.

    CBC/Radio-Canada is saving $10 million in operating and maintenance costs annually by shutting down its analogue transmitters.

    The Corporation is also reducing its overall annual energy consumption by 8.4 per cent — that’s 19,721,179 ekwh of energy per year, or the equivalent of unplugging 32,868 fridges requiring 600 kwh/year, or 49,303 fridges requiring 400 kwh/year, annually.

    Savings and proceeds from sales of equipment and land support the creation of Canadian programming.

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